The Milwaukee Bucks squandered some of the good will they gained with back-to-back victories over the Philadelphia 76ers, falling to an injury-riddled Atlanta Hawks team 104-111. Milwaukee went through the first half a little lackadaisical, but were still able to emerge with a 51-23 advantage at halftime. The third quarter went about as scheduled, but the fourth quarter featured yet another utter unraveling by this Milwaukee Bucks team as Atlanta pulled away with some prolific shotmaking behind the arc.
What We Learned
This was a sneaky tough game to not have PJ Tucker. Even if Clint Capela, a regular center, had 34 minutes, Atlanta still has a whole host of agile, athletic, shotmaking forwards that require a whole host of switching and versatility. The Bucks switched plenty, but neither Brook Lopez or Bobby Portis were a fit for the Hawks run in the fourth when their guards caught fire from deep. You would’ve liked to see Tucker with Giannis in the lineup to help match up against all of Atlanta’s size and speed, although I’m not sure that would’ve entirely snuffed out the whole host of defensive issues on the perimeter. Regardless, his absence, and with few Thanasis minutes, you saw some of the limitations of this team against a squad that’s willing to pace and space.
Giannis needed to a centerpiece down low - Despite the Hawks keeping it close through their shooting woes, Giannis just wasn’t going to allow Milwaukee to fall too far behind, through three quarters at least. He was destroying the Hawks at the rim, particularly in the third quarter, and that extended to both ends of the court. On offense, he punished the rim with dunks off lobs. On defense, he was sending shots away. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to carry the team down the stretch with his scoring, as Atlanta’s 3-pointers became overwhelming. It was unfortunate, as the further behind Milwaukee fell, the more they felt the need to shoot jumpers. Nobody on Atlanta could stop Giannis, and I would’ve liked to see the team continue to force feed him in the fourth. He had 31 points and 14 rebounds.
Jrue Holiday was in the scoring mood...for a half - In the first half, Holiday had no trouble driving directly into the teeth of Atlanta’s defense and finding a parade of ways to score at the rim. He had a few finishes that were outrageous as he twirled around, and others where he merely need a euro-step to score easily. His offensive flow helped Milwaukee acquire their lead in the first half. He still finished a hyper-efficient 8-11, but turned into more of a distributor in the second half. He ended with 11 assists and 19 points on just 11 shots.
Donte was horrendous defensively - Late in the game, he sagged too far off shooters that allowed the Hawks to get into a 3-point rhythm. Later still, he completely forgot to guard Bogdan Bogdanovic after Jrue Holiday stopped Lou Williams at halfcourt. It was just an all around atrocious showing by the third year guard who has somehow grown less reliable by my estimation as the season has gone on. I’m not above saying there was a part of me a little bitter when Donte DiVincenzo drove directly at Bogdan Bogdanovic and completely biffed his shot at the rim in the first either. He fouled aplenty, missed a wide-open transition layup opportunity and couldn’t find his shot from deep. On defense, he didn’t do a great job stopping dribble penetration. He needs to find a groove before the Playoffs come.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- I like seeing Bobby Portis more than willing to fire up 3-point shots given his incredible accuracy from deep this season. I wouldn’t mind if his volume ticked up a few more notches. One thing I’m not as big a fan of is him calling his own number when Khris Middleton is the only star on the floor. It happened during some ugly possessions to start the fourth period as Atlanta creaked back into the game.
Bucks started the fourth quarter with Teague-DiVincenzo-Connaughton-Middleton-Portis and just couldn't really get the stops they needed.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) April 26, 2021
Swapped buckets for a bit before the Hawks made a run and cut it to three. Bucks lead, 82-79, with 8:45 left.
- The first half was a slopfest; my word was there an immense amount of turnovers to start this one. I can’t recall a half with this many intercepted passes on the court, many of which didn’t turn into points.
- Giannis had his turnaround, in the paint jumper going for this one. Twice he was able to create separation, elevate and convert on the shot. That hasn’t been a high-value proposition all the time this season, but it sure feels promising when it goes in.
You know Khris Middleton is in a funk when he’s passed the ball on a cut, late in the third, directly under the basket and he refuses to even attempt a layup against Danilo Gallinari of all people. It turned into a turnover. Frustrating. He had 23 points on 18 field goal attempts.